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Growth of a Soul


Published June 11, 2014


LibriVox recording of Growth of a Soul by August Strindberg. (Translated by Claud Field.)

Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright who has had many of his works read into Librivox by volunteers. From his earliest work, Strindberg developed forms of dramatic action, language, and visual composition so innovative that many were to become technically possible to stage only with the advent of film. He is considered the "father" of modern Swedish literature. The Growth of a Soul is Strindberg's own literary autobiography and recreation of the spirit of the times at Upsala University and his attempts to become a literary artist. The work ends with the publication of his novel The Red Room (1879). It is the autobiography of a thinking soul. He discusses the works of such souls as Friedrich Schiller (1788-1805), Christopher Jacob Boström (1797-1866), Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1862).(Wikipedia and Soupy)

The history of the development of a soul can be sometimes written by giving a simple bibliography; for a man who lives in a narrow circle and never meets great men personally, seeks to make their acquaintance through books. The fact that the same books do not make the same impression, nor have the same effect upon all, shows their relative powerlessness to convert anybody. For example, we call the criticism with which we agree good; the criticism which contradicts our views is bad. Thus we seem to be educated with preconceived views, and the book which strengthens, expresses and develops these makes an impression on us. The danger of a one-sided education through books is that most books, especially those composed at the end of an era, and at the university, are antiquated. The youth who has received old ideals from his parents and teachers is accordingly necessarily out of date before his education is completed. When he enters manhood, he is generally obliged to fling away his whole stock of old ideas, and be born again, as it were. Time has gone by him, while he was reading the old books, and he finds himself a stranger among his contemporaries. August Strindberg

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